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SJU women fall to Rutgers in Big East tournament

One day later, Wright was far from her comfort zone as top-seeded and No. 9 Rutgers frustrated her into one of her worst games of the season in a 69-45 loss in the quarterfinals at Hartford Civic Center. The Storm's leading scorer (15.1 points per game) tied a season-low with three points on 1-for-8 shooting from the field. She also had 7 turnovers as Big East Defensive Player of the Year Chelsea Newton kept Wright, an All-Big East second team selection, in check."They just got in my head tonight," said Wright, who had no turnovers against Seton Hall. "(It) shouldn't have happened."Newton controlled the game on the offensive end as well. The senior guard scored a career-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting. But Wright will remember Newton's superb defensive play more than anything else."She was just all in my face," Wright said.Newton explained: "Defense is an attitude."Angela Clark led eighth-seeded St. John's (19-10), which shot only 37.5 percent from the field, with 16 points, including the Storm's first 13 points in the second half.Despite Clark's efforts, top-seeded Rutgers (24-5) continued to pour it on, leading by as much as 31 in the game and scoring 20 points off of 23 St. John's turnovers. The Johnnies forced Rutgers into 17 turnovers, but only managed to turn them into eight points.As the Scarlet Knights, shooting 47.4 percent from the field for the game, continued to increase their lead, St. John's players grew only more frustrated."I think we pulled (the score) to 10," Wright said, "(but) before we could blink, it was out of reach."One could not help but see how this game could have been "out of reach" for St. John's. Rutgers is a national powerhouse that defeated three top-25 teams in one week earlier this season. St. John's was 3-24 overall just three short seasons ago. But this year's Red Storm has improved a tremendous amount under the leadership of Kim Barnes Arico - St. John's got off to its best start in school history this year (11-0) and its 19 wins are the most since 1987-88."We're hoping to get an NIT bid," Barnes Arico said. "And we'll move on from there."St. John's 45, Seton Hall 42. The ninth-seeded Pirates had every opportunity to steal the game at the end when Wright and Danielle Chambers both missed free throws that could have put it out of reach, but a missed jumper by Asia Carroll and a turnover by Cortne Ellis allowed the Red Storm to squeak by with a win.Both teams had a chance to seal the game in the closing seconds, but it was two Kati Kurtosi free throws for St. John's and a missed Cortne Ellis three-pointer at the buzzer for Seton Hall that gave the Red Storm the victory in the first round of the Big East tournament.Wright scored a game-high 21 points and the Storm shut down Pirates star guard Ashley Bush, who scored 25 points against the Johnnies in a 61-50 Hall win on Jan. 12, holding her to 4 points on 2-of-9 shooting."We really focused on (Bush) this week," Barnes Arico said.The win marks only the second Big East tournament victory in 10 years for St. John's.Reach contributing writer Marc Raimondi by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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